Scottish record producer Calvin Harris is on an undeniable hot streak following the release of his latest single, “Heatstroke“. The smooth, groovy track features the esoteric mumblings of Young Thug, the slick waves of Ariana Grande, and the carefree crooning of Pharrell. Mash all of that together and what we get is a song that oozes summer pop appeal, yet refuses to fully step into the cheese-fest that sometimes accompanies songs such as these. “Heatstroke” is the musical equivalent of driving home from a beach day with your best friends in a topless Jeep, the sand still caked onto your legs as your salt-washed hair blows in the wind. There’s no doubt that Harris is now in competition with himself for “Song of the Summer”, the competition being between “Heatstroke” and “Slide“, his last single that features Migos and Frank Ocean which currently is sitting at Number 34 on the charts.
Needless to say, Harris is having a moment. After voicing his intentions to release 10 singles this year, all as individual packages not leading to an album, it’s clear that he’s putting everything he’s got into each song. I expect both of these tracks to crack the Top 10, making their way into everybody’s summer playlist whether they like it or not. Turn on a radio this summer, and I’d bet that Calvin Harris will be bumping through the speakers soon enough. With all that being said, I feel as though he won’t be the only one who benefits from such a radio-friendly hit. All in all, I think “Heatstroke” is the track that will make Young Thug the biggest rapper in the world.
I’ve stated previously that I fully believe Young Thug will soon become the world’s biggest rapper, and now it only seems like a matter of time. As as big as he is in the rap world, he’s yet to truly break into the mainstream in a massive way. “Stoner“, the song that more or less truly put him on the map as a serious up-and-comer, just barely cracked the Top 50 and, despite some radio play, wasn’t able to solidify him in overall pop culture due to it’s heavy drug theme. “Lifestyle” was a meme hit soon to follow, if only due to his uniquely indecipherable lyrics. Though even parents knew about the viral song, the comedic turn that it ended up taking prevented any lasting power sticking to his name outside of rap culture. Then of course was “Best Friend“, his highest charting solo single (it peaked at #45) that spawned a hugely successful music video that currently sits just below 200 million views. Even that song failed to truly transcend his rap trappings, and he remains a rap superstar at best. In a few short years, he’s established himself as a legitimate force in the game, a personality that’s truly just as unique as his music and his wardrobe. But it’s about time he make the crossover leap.
It’s already been coming for some time. With the release of his last project¬†Jeffrey, it was blatantly clear that Thug is attempting to clean up his image. His mustard-yellow dreadlocks and septum piercing are gone; his Instagram now¬†features less guns and drugs and more fashion shows; he changed his name to No, My Name is Jeffrey¬†(Is that even still a thing?). All of this goes along with the project that has him creating more refined trap hits without sacrificing too much of his signature flair. Though he’s mostly appeared only on features since, it’s clear that this next stage of his musical career is the one that aims to have much wider appeal.
On top of his own transformation, however, is the fact that Young Thug somehow has to topple the current king, which is clearly Drake. It’s become a talked-about topic recently that we are starting to see the decline of Drake’s mighty 6 God Empire; his kingdom is still in tact at the moment, but it’s past its peak.¬†Views broke nearly all the streaming records there were, but didn’t live up to the hype.¬†More Life is on par to do much of the same, but it’s clear that he’s getting closer and closer to becoming an all out pop star. On top of that, his stated intentions of getting back into acting fueled the discussion that even he realizes that his fall from grace is coming, as he begins to seek out other opportunities to grasp onto his superstardom. With all that said, it’s about time for someone to step in and start transitioning into their power role, and Young Thug has quietly been preparing for this moment.
With “Heatstroke”, he’ll have the country attempting to sing along to his sporadic melodies and squeals. The pop appeal that the song has will get it in everybody’s ears; even the white soccer moms will be singing along, which, to me, has always served as a marker as to how popular a rap artist really is in the pop world. Though it doesn’t feature Thug at his absolute best lyrically, it will still get him in ears enough to the point that the next time he has a bubbling single on the rap charts, it will be much easier for it to jump over onto the Hot 100 Chart.
It will only be a matter of time until we witness the rise of rap’s next biggest superstar; it’s becoming more and more apparent that the throne is becoming ripe for the taking. If there’s anybody that has the pure talent, charisma, and crossover appeal, it’s Young Thug. “Heatstroke” will provide him with the eyes and ears of just about everyone this summer, watching to see what his next move will be. And if Jeffrey can follow it up with at least one big hit, we may see the transition of power coming much sooner than Aubrey would have anticipated.